Basia Zarzycka Minerva Memories – Tunis


La Goulette is the port suburb of the capital Tunis and is where the Minerva docked and luckily we visited before the recent troubles . It has been a place of strategic importance since time immemorial. In the reign of the Emperor Charles V, it was the most important Spanish possession in the eastern Maghreb. From 1574 onwards, the Ottoman rulers enlarged and strengthened the fortress built by Spain. La Goulette became a port only during the French colonial period, when the Lake of Tunis silted up and could no longer take ships of any size.


For sightseeing, La Goulette has Spanish and Ottoman forts to explore and the gateway of the Old Arsenal (on the Tunis Road). If just soaking up the sea air is more your thing, the main coastal road (Avenue Franklin Roosevelt) is La Goulette’s top promenading venue. Beyond the modern harbour, the long stretch of sandy beach is one of the city’s top spots for evening and weekend relaxing.


Tunisia’s capital is one of North Africa’s most easygoing cities, yet still full of exotic appeal. It’s this laid back approach that makes Tunis the perfect introduction to the region. Most of the main sightseeing is in the Medina (Old Town), which is a tourist attraction in itself. Here the alleyways wind in higgledy-piggledy routes. Once amid the high walls you’re bound to get lost.


The remnants of ancient Carthage – fabled wealthy seafaring city of the Phoenicians – lie scattered across the Bay of Tunis. The evocative tumbled columns and piles of marble rubble are bordered by a panorama of the Mediterranean Sea, which was so fundamental to the city’s prosperity. Completely destroyed in the third Punic War in 146 BC, the surviving ruins pale in comparison to some of North Africa’s other ancient sites, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit.


With their seafront setting the ruins have an unbeatable, lost-in-time air. The separate sites are strung out along the bay area and can be easily reached by a mix of walking and using the Tunis Light Railway.


The only problem we found on this date was the heat and the traders always trying to sell you something, if they learnt to be more laid back I’m sure they would sell more, but it all adds to the charm of this North African city.


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About Basia Zarzycka